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VAST Volunteer Conference

Mar 22, 2022 | Blog

April showers bring May flowers to VAST’s Annual Volunteer Conference! United Way of Broome County is proud to partner with Volunteer Administrators of the Southern Tier to host their annual Volunteer Conference on Thursday, April 21.

National Volunteer Week, held annually on the third week of April, is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world. This unique virtual conference aims to connect and educate volunteers and volunteer administrators.

9:00-9:15 LoriAnne Welch, UW Executive Director, Welcoming Remarks
9:15-10:15 Dr. Leon John, Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion Cedar Crest College, Volunteer Management through a DEI Lens

Session Description:

This session is to help stakeholders learn how to supervise volunteers from diverse backgrounds and the role that microaggressions, implicit bias, and stereotypes can negatively affect productivity.  Participants will have an opportunity to listen, share and engage with one another and the presenter through a multimedia presentation.


​​Leon John, Jr., Ph.D., was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the son of immigrant parents from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. John spent his formative years in Trinidad and Tobago, but he had the best of both worlds as he spent summers and other holidays in the United States with his parents.

In 1995, Dr. John moved full-time to the United States to pursue his bachelor’s degree. In 2019, he graduated with a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Human Development from Marywood University. His professional experience is exclusive to higher education, where he has worked in various departments that include enrollment management, student affairs, alumni engagement, academic affairs, and university advancement. His published dissertation: Self-Efficacy among Students of Color at Predominantly White Institutions of Higher Education in Northeastern Pennsylvania contains insight into the issues that the ever-increasing population of students of color face at colleges/universities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Dr. John has delivered several presentations on the issues that students of color face on college campuses, with a particular focus on implicit biases, microaggressions, and campus climate. He was the former co-chair of the campus climate committee of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of East Stroudsburg University and is an Executive Committee member of the NAACP-Wilkes Barre Charter #2306. He is currently the Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Cedar Crest College, an adjunct instructor at Penn State University-Scranton, and does consulting work for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in the public and private sector. He lives in Pittston, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Luciana, and son, Kian.


10:45-11:45 Pamela Baker Gratton ​​MS Ed, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator and Associate Care Manager, Alzheimer’s Association, Navigating a Virtual Volunteer Program

Session Description:

This session will walk attendees through the process of setting up a robust virtual volunteer program, reviewing the benefits and barriers you should consider to develop a successful program. 


Pamela is the Outreach & Volunteer Manager with the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter. At the Chapter, she coordinates the volunteer and outreach initiatives for fourteen Central New York Counties from the Canadian to the Pennsylvania borders, as far west as Cayuga County and as far east as Herkimer County.

Previously she served as the Cayuga County Manager for the American Red Cross of CNY and Director of Educational Programs for Junior Achievement of CNY. As the Director of Educational Programs, she oversaw the implementation of K-12 financial literacy programs serving thirteen Central New York counties and managed 500+ volunteers. Pamela has over 25 years of experience working with volunteers.

She is also an active volunteer that has served on many CNY boards and committees; currently serving with the Auburn Rotary Club and “Warm the Children” (which provides NEW coats for children in need) in Cayuga County. Pamela holds a Master’s in Educational Administration from SUNY Buffalo. She and her husband Charlie live in a 100-year-old farmhouse in Cayuga County with their three young adult children.


12:30-1:30 Christina Whitney, Director, The Gerard R. Roche Center for Career Development, University of Scranton, Leveraging Your Volunteer Experience for Professional Development

Session Description:

This interactive workshop explores attendee strengths, skills, and experiences in order to look at future professional and personal endeavors. Creating a special identity to promote an individual’s readiness for the next stage of life is the main goal of this session, focusing on how individuals can use their volunteer experience(s) in resumes and relationship building.


2:00-3:15 Zachariah Riley, Executive Director, American Red Cross, Modern Volunteer Management

Session Description:

Onboarding is crucial to setting a volunteer on a path to success. Implementing some easy steps is all it takes to foster a positive and long relationship with volunteers who, if given a chance, can truly revolutionize your organization. Onboarding is the process of taking a prospective volunteer to an engaged member of your workforce. Every organization has a form of Onboarding, and by tweaking or adding some elements, each plan can set your workforce up for success. Join us to learn about the key elements of Onboarding, how you can review your plans or create new ones, and grow your workforce to deliver your organization’s mission.


Zachariah has been part of the Red Cross for several years and is currently the Executive Director of the American Red Cross Southern Tier Chapter. Volunteering has always been important to Zachariah, starting out as a Tiger Scout at a young age and later becoming an Eagle Scout. Born and raised in the Binghamton area, he attended Broome Community College for Business Administration and completed his undergraduate education with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration from Excelsior College.


Registration ends at 4 pm on April 20. Register now!

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